Though they’ve never been part of the same organization—until now—there are a handful of events that will forever link former Oregon State running back Ryan Nall with ex-Oregon coach Mark Helfrich.
As a 3-star prospect out of Portland’s Central Catholic High School, Nall was the fifth-best player in Oregon for the 2014 recruiting class yet never received a scholarship offer from Oregon. That was Helfrich’s second year in charge of the Ducks’ program and his 2014 class was already well stocked with ball carriers, having locked up Royce Freeman and Tony Brooks-James.
Ironically, the best individual performance of Nall’s Oregon State career came in what ended up being Helfrich’s last game as Oregon coach. Nall ran for 155 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Beavers’ 34-24 win over the Ducks in November 2016.
Nall played one more season at OSU before entering the NFL Draft this spring but he went undrafted. Prior to the draft, though, he visited with several teams including the Chicago Bears, where Helfrich is now offensive coordinator under new coach Matt Nagy.
“When we were talking, he was saying how it’s funny that he could have recruited me when we were 130 miles apart,” Nall told Danny Moran of OregonLive.com. “Now, he’s recruiting me when we’re 1,000 miles apart. It’s funny and ironic. Things came full circle.”
Nall told OregonLive he was surprised about not being drafted but noted that many teams were interested in switching him to another position, possibly linebacker. Nall wanted to give it a go as a running back, something he said the Bears are also keen on.
“At the end of the day, I got to a place where I can play the position that I want to play,” he said.